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Licences facts and figures

Licences in Force

How many TV Licences are in force in the UK? How many of the licences in force are for premises that are households, and how many are for businesses?

TV Licensing reports on the number of TV licences ‘in force’ following the end of each month, as the exact number of licences in force fluctuates on a daily basis and monthly basis. Reasons for this include the purchase of new licences, cancellation by TV Licensing as a result of payment failure and cancellation by customers themselves for a variety of reasons such as moving house, or a delayed licence renewal where a licence expires and is renewed in a different month.

UK total number of licences in force in 2020/21*

No. of licences in force
April 2020 25,396,530
May 2020 25,324,980
June 2020 25,252,600
July 2020 25,237,390
August 2020 24,828,510**
September 2020 24,790,370**
October 2020 24,792,400**
November 2020 24,823,110**
December 2020 24,852,640**
January 2021 24,858,940**
February 2021 24,844,900**
March 2021 24,837,260**

*Figures have been rounded to the nearest ten.

**Include coverage provided by the General Notice published in July 2020 as part of the transition to the new Over 75 policy arrangements.

The number of licences in force in the UK for the last ten financial years is shown below.

UK total number of licences in force*

Financial year No. of licences**
2020/21 24,837,260
2019/20 25,527,840
2018/19 25,752,560
2017/18 25,836,500
2016/17 25,826,120
2015/16 25,558,190
2014/15 25,507,730
2013/14 25,419,300
2012/13 25,338,330
2011/12 25,226,070

*As at the end of each financial year i.e. 31 March. These figures are approximations of the number of licences in force. They do not include concessionary licences held by Accommodation for Residential Care (ARC) premises.

An address may require more than one licence (e.g. student accommodation). Therefore, it is the number of licences is shown here, rather than the number of addresses with a licence. The number of households and business premises with TV Licences cannot be readily extracted from the total number of licences in force, because such information is not specifically recorded for each licence.

**Figures have been rounded to the nearest ten.

How many households in the UK have a TV?

As at March 2020*, statistics from the Broadcasters Audience Research Board (BARB) show that around 94% of UK households may be licensable.

*During 2020/21, Covid-19 has prevented BARB from completing its surveys. This means that the percentage of households that require a TV licence cannot be estimated because BARB data is not available.

How many premises hold more than one Licence?

As at 31 March 2021, 308,510* addresses were recorded on the TV Licensing database as being issued with more than one TV Licence. There are instances where it is legitimate to have more than one licence at an address, e.g. for student accommodation. In other cases, an address may temporarily be recorded as having more than one licence due to licence payers moving premises.

*Figures have been rounded to the nearest ten.

How many black and white (mono) TV Licences in force were there in 2019/20?

As at 31 March 2021, 4,450* black and white (mono) TV Licences were in force.

*Figures have been rounded to the nearest ten.

Can I have a list of the addresses at [X] locality without a TV Licence?

The BBC is not able to release personal data about other people (including names or addresses) as to do so would breach the data protection law. Information is collected and held for the purpose of administering the TV licensing system, not for other unrelated purposes.

How many TV Licences have been issued to the BBC?

The majority of BBC locations are covered by what is known as a ‘multi-licence’ which is a licence designed for large organisations with multiple sites. In the financial year 2020/21, 113 licences were purchased under the BBC multi-licence.

Information for licences held by the BBC’s commercial subsidiaries (BBC Resources Ltd, UKTV, BBC World News Ltd and BBC Worldwide Ltd) is not included in these figures because it is not subject to the FOI Act.

How many TV Licences have been cancelled?

TV Licensing cancellations data* is reported on a monthly basis and relates to licences in force where the licence has been cancelled by TV Licensing as a result of payment failure and by customers themselves. Consequently, these figures cannot be taken to mean solely the number of licences cancelled by customers.

The number of cancelled licences in force each month in the 2020/21 financial year is shown below.

* TV Licensing management information terms some cancellations as expired, depending on the circumstances of the cancellation, and these are not reported as cancelled licences.

Additionally, figures may be re-stated following end of financial year audits and therefore figures released previously under the Freedom of Information Act are subject to revision.

UK total number of cancelled licences in force in 2020/21*
April 2020 29,940
May 2020 31,190
June 2020 33,540
July 2020 74,770
August 2020 70,200
September 2020 100,640
October 2020 67,030
November 2020 64,410
December 2020 64,990
January 2021 62,470
February 2021 68,610
March 2021 89,060

*Figures have been rounded to the nearest ten.

UK total number of cancelled licences in force in 2019/20*
April 2019 74,640
May 2019 71,340
June 2019 69,490
July 2019 80,350
August 2019 75,230
September 2019 74,520
October 2019 78,820
November 2019 68,160
December 2019 70,780
January 2020 71,680
February 2020 64,540
March 2020 61,500

*Figures have been rounded to the nearest ten.

UK total number of cancelled licences in force in 2018/19

A total of 894,340 licences in force were cancelled in the 2018/19 financial year.

Concessions

Who decides which groups get a concession on the licence fee?

The TV Licence fee – including concessions and payment amounts – is prescribed by Parliament under the Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004 (opens in a new window) (as amended). The BBC is not responsible for these matters. You may wish to contact the government agency responsible for broadcasting in the UK – the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (opens in a new window) – to raise any issues you may have about the legal framework for the licence fee. The Department’s address is 100 Parliament Street, London SW1A 2BQ.

We recognise that some people may have difficulty paying for their TV Licence in one lump sum. A cash payment plan is available to allow for paying the licence fee in manageable instalments. Payments (by cash, debit or credit card) may be for as little as £6 a week.

People can also save towards the payment of their next licence by using a TV Licensing savings card.

TV Licensing works closely with money advice groups and other stakeholders to ensure that information about flexible payment methods reaches those who might benefit from it.

Information on the types of concessions and how you can apply for them can be found below:

Are BBC staff eligible for a reduced licence fee or free TV Licences?

BBC staff are not eligible for a reduced licence fee or a free TV Licence by virtue of the fact they work for the BBC.

BBC staff are eligible for concessions just like anyone else. Blind (severely sight-impaired) persons are eligible for a 50% concession on the licence fee, and persons aged 75 years or older who receive Pension Credit. The BBC doesn’t retain a list of staff members who receive concessions on their licence.

Does the BBC get reimbursed by the government for the cost of issuing free TV Licences to persons aged 75 years and older?

The BBC has previously been reimbursed by the government for the cost of issuing free TV Licences to persons aged 75 years and older. However, under the government’s funding arrangements agreed in July 2015 this funding was phased out starting from April 2018 and no funding was received in 2020/21.

On 1 August 2020, a new scheme was introduced. Under the new scheme, anyone aged 75 or over who receives Pension Credit will still be eligible for a free TV Licence which the BBC will pay for. Households where there is no one aged 75 or over that receives Pension Credit will need to buy a licence if one is needed.

Further information is available at the following web-link to the BBC website:

https://www.bbc.com/aboutthebbc/reports/consultation/age-related-tv-licence-policy

How many people each year reach 75 years old and become eligible for a free over 75 TV Licence?

The BBC doesn’t hold information on the number of people each year who reach 75 years old and become eligible for a free over 75 TV Licence. These figures may be available from the Department for Work and Pensions (opens in a new window).

How many BBC funded TV Licences are in force?

As at the end of March 2021, there were 1.359 million BBC funded TV Licences in force. These relate primarily to free licences issued to anyone over 75 who receives Pension Credit. Licence holders who are over 75 and resident in an accommodation for residential care (ARC) scheme or an ARC scheme with Preserved Rights are also eligible for a free licence. For the Crown Dependencies, equivalent arrangements were put in place, starting from 1 January 2021, based on local benefits. This also includes coverage provided by the General Notice published in July 2020 as part of the transition to the new over 75 policy arrangements.

This information is also available in the BBC Annual Report and Accounts.

How many free, over 75 TV Licences were in force before August 2020?

The number of free over 75 TV Licences in force, under the previous scheme, for the last ten financial years is shown below. Under the new Over 75 scheme, which was introduced in August 2020, anyone aged 75 or over who receives Pension Credit will still be eligible for a free TV Licence which the BBC will pay for.

This information is also available in the BBC Annual Report and Accounts.

Financial year Number of free over 75 licences
2019/20 4.69
2018/19 4.60
2017/18 4.46
2016/17 4.39
2015/16 4.36
2014/15 4.36
2013/14 4.33
2012/13 4.25
2011/12 4.21
2010/11 4.16

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Latest press releases

TV Licensing assures customers that implementing the new over 75s licence fee concession will be Covid-19 safe
Thu Jul 09 2020
Following the BBC Board’s confirmation that the BBC will begin the new scheme covering the over 75s licence fee concession from 1 August this year, TV Licensing is assuring customers that implementation of the new scheme will be Covid-19 safe.
Thousands of black and white TVs still in use as BBC One in colour hits 50
Wed 13 Nov 2019
As BBC One celebrates its 50th anniversary of colour television this week, TV Licensing has revealed that more than 6,500 UK households are still watching TV programmes on black and white TV sets.
Over 20,000 young people interviewed for watching TV without a TV Licence
Tue Oct 22 2019
More than 20,000 young people aged 18 to 25 have been interviewed by TV Licensing Visiting Officers for watching live TV or BBC iPlayer without a valid licence in the last year, according to figures released by TV Licensing.
 

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